New York metropolitan area is home to the largest and most prominent ethnic
Chinese population outside of Asia, hosting Chinese populations representing
all 34 provincial-level administrative units of China. The Chinese American population of the New York City metropolitan area was an estimated 893,697 as of 2017, constituting the largest and most prominent metropolitan Asian national diaspora outside Asia. New York City itself contains by far the highest ethnic Chinese population of any individual city outside Asia, estimated at 628,763 as of 2017.
The Chinese American community in the New York metropolitan area is rising rapidly in population as well as
economic and political influence. Continuing significant
immigration from Mainland China has spurred the ongoing rise of the Chinese population in the New York metropolitan area; this immigration and its accompanying growth in the impact of the Chinese presence continue to be fueled by New York's status as an
alpha global city, its high
population density, its extensive
mass transit system, and the New York metropolitan area's enormous economic marketplace.
Among the earliest documented arrivals of
Chinese immigrants in New York City were of "sailors and peddlers" in the 1830s. These arrivals were followed in 1847 by three students who came to continue their education in the United States. One of these scholars, Yung Wing, soon became the first Chinese American to graduate from a U.S. college in 1854, when Wing graduated from
Many more Chinese immigrants arrived and settled in
Lower Manhattan throughout the 1800s, including an 1870s wave of Chinese immigrants searching for "gold." By 1880, the enclave around
Five Points was estimated to have from 200 to as many as 1,100 members. However, the
Chinese Exclusion Act, which went into effect in 1882, caused an abrupt decline in the number of Chinese who emigrated to New York and the rest of the United States. Later, in 1943, the Chinese were given a small quota, the
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 caused a revival in Chinese immigration, and the community's population gradually increased until 1968, when the quota was lifted and the Chinese American population skyrocketed, and in 1992, New York City officially began providing language assistance for
electoral materials in Chinese, given that this population had reached a critical mass in numbers. The Sino-American Friendship Association was established in
Midtown Manhattan in 1992.
New York City has the largest Chinese population of any city outside of Asia and within the U.S. with an estimated population of 573,388 in 2014, and continues to be a primary destination for
new Chinese immigrants. New York City is subdivided into official municipal
boroughs, which themselves are home to significant Chinese populations, with
Queens, adjacently located on
Long Island, leading the fastest growth. After the City of New York itself, the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn encompass the largest Chinese populations, respectively, of all municipalities in the United States.
Density of Chinese Americans per square mile in borough
Percentage of Chinese Americans in borough's population
In 2013, 19,645 Chinese legally immigrated to the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA core based statistical area from
Mainland China, greater than the combined totals for
Los Angeles and
San Francisco, the next two largest Chinese American gateways; in 2012, this number was 24,763; 28,390 in 2011; and 19,811 in 2010. These numbers do not include the remainder of the New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area, nor do they include the significantly smaller numbers of legal immigrants from
Taiwan and Hong Kong. There has additionally been a consequential component of
Chinese emigration of illegal origin, most notably
Fuzhou people from
Zhejiang in mainland China, specifically destined for New York City, beginning in the 1980s.
Within the Chinese population, New York City is also home to between 150,000 and 200,000
Fuzhounese Americans, who have exerted a large influence upon the
Chinese restaurant industry across the United States; the vast majority of the growing population of Fuzhounese Americans have settled in New York.
The Chinese immigrant population in New York City grew from 261,500
foreign-born individuals in 2000 to 350,000 in 2011, representing a more than 33% growth of that demographic. Chinese immigrants represented 12,000 of the country's
asylum requests in fiscal year 2013, of which 4,000 applied for asylum to the New York-area asylum office.
Manhattan's Chinatown holds the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere. Manhattan's
Chinatown is also one of the oldest
Chineseethnic enclaves. The Manhattan Chinatown is one of
nine Chinatown neighborhoods in New York City, as well as one of twelve in the
New York metropolitan area, which contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia, comprising an estimated 893,697 uniracial individuals as of 2017.
Manhattan's Chinatown is actually divided into two different portions. The western portion is the older and original part of Manhattan's Chinatown, primarily dominated by
Cantonese populations and known colloquially as the Cantonese Chinatown. Cantonese were the earlier settlers of Manhattan's Chinatown, originating mostly from Hong Kong and from
Taishan in Guangdong Province, as well as from Shanghai. They form most of the Chinese population of the area surrounded by
However, within Manhattan's Chinatown lies
Little Fuzhou or The Fuzhou Chinatown on
East Broadway and surrounding streets, occupied predominantly by immigrants from the province of
Fujian, Mainland China. They are the later settlers, from
Fuzhou, Fujian, forming the majority of the Chinese population in the vicinity of East Broadway. This eastern portion of Manhattan's Chinatown developed much later, primarily after the Fuzhou immigrants began moving in.
Areas surrounding "Little Fuzhou" consist of significant numbers of Cantonese immigrants from the
Guangdong of China; however, the main concentration of people speaking the
Cantonese language is in the older western portion of Manhattan's Chinatown. Despite the fact that the Mandarin speaking communities were becoming established in Flushing and Elmhurst areas of
Queens during the 1980s–1990s and even though the Fuzhou immigrants spoke Mandarin often as well, however, due to their socioeconomic status, they could not afford the housing prices in Mandarin speaking enclaves in Queens, which were more middle class and the job opportunities were limited. They instead chose to settle in Manhattan's Chinatown for affordable housing and as well as the job opportunities that were available such as the seamstress factories and restaurants, despite the traditional Cantonese dominance until the 1990s. Eventually this pattern was repeated in Brooklyn's Sunset Park Chinatown, but on a much more immense scale.
However, the Cantonese dialect that has dominated Chinatown for decades is being rapidly swept aside by
Mandarin, the national language of China and the
lingua franca due to the influx of Fuzhou immigrants who often speak Mandarin and as well as there are now more Mandarin speaking visitors coming to visit the neighborhood. Chinatown's modern borders are roughly
Delancey Street on the north,
Chambers Street on the south, East Broadway on the east, and
Broadway on the west.
The Flushing Chinatown, in the
Flushing area of the borough of Queens in New York City, is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside Asia, as well as within New York City itself.
Main Street and the area to its west, particularly along
Roosevelt Avenue, have become the primary nexus of Flushing Chinatown. However, Flushing Chinatown continues to expand southeastward along
Kissena Boulevard and northward beyond
Northern Boulevard. In the 1970s, a Chinese community established a foothold in the neighborhood of Flushing, whose demographic constituency had been predominantly non-Hispanic white.
Taiwanese began the surge of immigration. It originally started off as Little Taipei or Little Taiwan due to the large Taiwanese population. Due to the then dominance of working class Cantonese immigrants of Manhattan's Chinatown including its poor housing conditions, they could not relate to them and settled in Flushing.
Later on, when other groups of Non-Cantonese Chinese, mostly speaking Mandarin started arriving into NYC, like the Taiwanese, they could not relate to Manhattan's then dominant Cantonese Chinatown, as a result they mainly settled with Taiwanese to be around Mandarin speakers. Later, Flushing's Chinatown would become the main center of different Chinese regional groups and cultures in NYC. By 1990, Asians constituted 41% of the population of the core area of Flushing, with Chinese in turn representing 41% of the Asian population. However, ethnic Chinese are constituting an increasingly dominant proportion of the Asian population as well as of the overall population in Flushing and its Chinatown. A 1986 estimate by the Flushing Chinese Business Association approximated 60,000 Chinese in Flushing alone.Mandarin Chinese (including
Hokkien, and English are all prevalently spoken in Flushing Chinatown, while the
Mongolian language is now emerging. Even the relatively obscure
Dongbei style of cuisine indigenous to Northeast China is now available there. Given its rapidly growing status, the Flushing Chinatown has surpassed the original New York City Chinatown in the Borough of Manhattan in size and population, while Queens and Brooklyn vie for the largest Chinese population of any municipality in the United States other than New York City as a whole.
Elmhurst, another neighborhood in Queens, also has a large and growing Chinese community. Previously a small area with Chinese shops on Broadway between 81st Street and Cornish Avenue, this new Chinatown has now expanded to 45th Avenue and Whitney Avenue. Since 2000, thousands of Chinese Americans have migrated into
Whitestone, Queens (白石), given the sizeable presence of the neighboring Flushing Chinatown, and have continued their expansion eastward in Queens and into neighboring, highly educated
Nassau County (拿騷縣) on
Long Island (長島), which has become the most popular
suburban destination in the U.S. for Chinese.
By 1988, 90% of the storefronts on Eighth Avenue in
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, were abandoned. Chinese immigrants then moved into this area, consisting of not only new arrivals from China, but also members of Manhattan's Chinatown seeking refuge from high rents, who flocked to the relatively less expensive property costs and rents of Sunset Park and formed the original
Brooklyn Chinatown, which now extends for 20 blocks along 8th Avenue, from 42nd to 62nd Streets. This relatively new but rapidly growing Chinatown located in Sunset Park was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants like Manhattan's Chinatown in the past. However, in the recent decade, an influx of Fuzhou immigrants has been pouring into Brooklyn's Chinatown and supplanting the Cantonese at a significantly higher rate than in Manhattan's Chinatown, and Brooklyn's Chinatown is now home to mostly Fuzhou immigrants.
In the past, during the 1980s and 1990s, the majority of newly arriving Fuzhou immigrants settled within Manhattan's Chinatown, and the first Little Fuzhou community emerged within Manhattan's Chinatown; by the first decade of the 21st century, however, the epicenter of the massive Fuzhou influx had shifted to Brooklyn's Chinatown, which is now home to the fastest-growing and perhaps largest Fuzhou population in New York City. Unlike the Little Fuzhou in Manhattan's Chinatown, which remains surrounded by areas which continue to house significant populations of Cantonese, all of Brooklyn's Chinatown is swiftly consolidating into New York City's new Little Fuzhou. However, a growing community of
Wenzhounese immigrants from China's
Zhejiang is now also arriving in Brooklyn's Chinatown. Also in contrast to Manhattan's Chinatown, which still successfully continues to carry a large Cantonese population and retain the large Cantonese community established decades ago in its western section, where Cantonese residents have a communal venue to shop, work, and socialize, Brooklyn's Chinatown has seen a change from its primarily Cantonese community identity to a more diverse Chinese melange.
Like Manhattan's Chinatown during the 1980s and 1990s (pre-gentrification), Brooklyn's Chinatown became the main affordable housing center for Fuzhou immigrants – and for job opportunities ranging from seamstress factories and restaurants – despite its domination by Cantonese immigrants in the earlier years.
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, as well as
Avenue U in
Homecrest, Brooklyn, in addition to
Marine Park, have given rise to the development of Brooklyn's newer satellite Chinatowns, as evidenced by the growing number of Chinese-run fruit markets, restaurants, beauty and
nail salons, small offices, and computer and
consumer electronics dealers. While the
foreign-born Chinese population in New York City jumped 35 percent between 2000 and 2013, to 353,000 from about 262,000, the foreign-born Chinese population in Brooklyn increased 49 percent during the same period, to 128,000 from 86,000, according to The New York Times. The emergence of multiple Chinatowns in Brooklyn is due to the overcrowding and high
property values in Brooklyn's main Chinatown in Sunset Park, and many Cantonese immigrants have moved out of Sunset Park into these new areas. As a result, the newer emerging, but smaller Brooklyn's Chinatowns are primarily Cantonese dominated while the main Brooklyn Chinatown is increasingly dominated by Fuzhou emigres.
Street fairs (街頭慶祝活動) are common and are an integral institution in the cultural fabric of Chinatown in Manhattan.
For much of the overall history of the Chinese community in New York City,
Taishanese was the dominant Chinese
dialect. After 1965, an influx of immigrants from
Hong Kong made
Cantonese the dominant dialect for the next three decades.
Later on, during the 1970s–80s, Mandarin and
Fuzhou-speaking immigrants began to arrive into New York City.
Taiwanese were settling into Flushing, Queens when it was still predominantly European American, while
Fuzhou immigrants were settling in Manhattan's then very Cantonese-dominated Chinatown. The Taiwanese and Fuzhou people were the earliest significant numbers of Chinese immigrants to arrive into New York who spoke Mandarin but not Cantonese, although many spoke their
regional Chinese dialects as well.
Since the mid 1990s, an influx of immigrants from various parts of Mainland China began arriving later on eventually, with the increased influence of Mandarin in the Chinese-speaking world, and a desire of Chinese parents to have their children learn this language, Mandarin has been in the process of becoming the dominant
lingua franca among the Chinese population of New York City. In the Manhattan Chinatown, many newer immigrants who speak Mandarin live around
East Broadway, while Chinatowns in Brooklyn and Queens have also witnessed influxes of Mandarin-speaking Chinese as well as
Min Chinese and
Southern Min speakers.
Unique Demographics of NYC Chinese Enclaves
However, the different Chinese cultural and language groups as well as
socioeconomic statuses are often subdivided among different
boroughs of New York City. In Queens, the Chinatowns are very diverse, composed of different Chinese regional groups mainly speaking Mandarin although speaking other dialects as well, and who are more often middle- or upper-middle class. As a result, the Mandarin dialect is primarily concentrated in Queens. In addition, Flushing's Chinatown is now the largest Chinese cultural center of New York City, including being the most diverse with many different Chinese populations from many various regions of China and Taiwan, but in since the 2000s, especially since the 2010s, the
Northeastern Chinese immigrants have been increasingly becoming a more dominant Chinese population in Flushing Queens.
However, since Manhattan's Chinatown and Brooklyn's Chinese enclaves still hold large Cantonese speaking populations, who were the earlier Chinese immigrants to arrive into New York City and with the popularity of Hong Kong
Cantonese cuisine and entertainment being widely available, the Cantonese dialect and culture still hold a large influence, and Cantonese is still a dialect in those enclaves.
Even though there are very large Fuzhou populations in Manhattan's Chinatown and Brooklyn's Chinese enclaves, many of whom speak Mandarin as well, the influence of Mandarin in those enclaves is as only one of the dialects in addition to Cantonese, rather than being the dominant one – unlike in the Chinese enclaves in Queens, where Mandarin is the most dominant dialect and as well as an almost exclusive dialect, despite the presence of a high diversity of Chinese regional languages in Queens – since there are fewer Mandarin speakers besides the Fuzhou population in Manhattan and Brooklyn than in Queens.
However, in Brooklyn,
Fuzhou speakers predominate in the large Chinatown in
Sunset Park while the several smaller emerging Chinatowns in various sections of
Bensonhurst and in a section of
Sheepshead Bay are primarily
Cantonese speakers, unlike in Manhattan's Chinatown, where the
Cantonese enclave and
Fuzhou enclave are directly adjacent to each other. Therefore, Mandarin and Cantonese dialects significantly varies between the different Chinatowns of Sunset Park, Bensonhurst and Sheepshead Bay. Cantonese is the main variety of Chinese spoken in Bensonhurst's and Sheepshead Bay's Chinatowns, since they are mostly Cantonese populated; Mandarin is another, but less dominant variety. Since Sunset Park's Chinatown is now mostly Fuzhou populated, Mandarin is more dominant there. In Manhattan's Chinatown, Cantonese is dominant in the western portion and Fuzhouese in the eastern portion. Cantonese and Mandarin are equally spoken there due to the high number of Mainland Chinese visitors and Cantonese residents from other neighborhoods.
The Cantonese and Fuzhou populations are often more working class. However, because of the gentrification in Manhattan's Chinatown, Sunset Park in Brooklyn is increasingly becoming the main target for newly arrived Fuzhou immigrants while Bensonhurst and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn are increasingly becoming the main targets for the newly arrived Cantonese immigrants. This shift has now resulted in Brooklyn's Chinatowns rapidly replacing Manhattan's Chinatown as the largest primary gathering cultural centers for the Cantonese and Fuzhou populations of New York City.
Cooks at a Manhattan Chinatown restaurant taking a break
Kosher preparation of Chinese food is also widely available in New York City, given the metropolitan area's large
Jewish and particularly
Orthodox Jewish populations. The perception that American Jews eat at Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day is documented in media as a common stereotype with a basis in fact. The tradition may have arisen from the lack of other open restaurants on Christmas Day, as well as the close proximity of Jewish and Chinese immigrants to each other in New York City. Kosher Chinese food is usually prepared in New York City, as well as in other large cities with Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, under strict
rabbinical supervision as a prerequisite for Kosher certification.
Chinese Lunar New Year is celebrated annually throughout New York City's Chinatowns. Chinese New Year was signed into law as an allowable school holiday in the
State of New York by
Governor Andrew Cuomo in December 2014, as absentee rates had run as high as 60% in some New York City schools on this day. In June 2015, New York City Mayor
Bill de Blasio declared that the Lunar New Year would be made a public school holiday.
Beginning in 2006 many Chinese Catholics began worshipping at St. John Vianney Church in
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adding to it. (April 2020)
Area Chinese-American associations include the
Short Hills Chinese Association (MSHCA;
pinyin: Mìěrběn Huárén Xiéhuì) in New Jersey, which hosts a moon festival each year. 2005 is the year of the organization's establishments.
The Long Island Chinese American Association (LICAA) serves those on
Long Island. As of 2020[update], Gordon Zhang is the president. Other associations include Chinese American Association of
North Hempstead and the
Herricks Chinese Association.
The economic influence of Chinese in New York City is growing as well. The majority of
cash purchases of New York City real estate in the first half of 2015 were transacted by Chinese as a combination of overseas Chinese and Chinese Americans. The top three surnames of cash purchasers of Manhattan real estate during that time period were Chen, Liu, and Wong. Chinese have also invested billions of dollars into New York
commercial real estate since 2013. According to China Daily, the
ferris wheel under construction on
Staten Island, slated to be among the world's tallest and most expensive with an estimated cost of $500million, has received $170million in funding from approximately 300 Chinese investors through the
U.S. EB-5 immigrant investor program, which grants
permanent residency to foreign investors in exchange for job-creating investments in the United States, with Chinese immigrating to New York City dominating this list. Chinese billionaires have been buying New York property to be used as
pied-à-terres, often priced in the tens of millions of U.S. dollars each, and as of 2016, middle-class Chinese investors were purchasing real estate in New York. Chinese companies have also been raising billions of dollars on
stock exchanges in New York via
initial public offerings. The major
Chinese banks maintain operational offices in New York City.
Wenliang Wang – honorary chairman,
NYU Center on U.S.-China relations
Peter Yew – Chinese Americans first protested
police brutality with high-profile activism outside
New York City Hall in May 1975, after the beating of this 27-year-old Chinese-American engineer who was a bystander at the scene of a traffic dispute in Chinatown in Manhattan.
Zhang Yesui – Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations from 2008 to 2010
^"Dragon Springs – Located in beautiful Deerpark, NY". Dragon Springs. Retrieved November 2, 2015. There is no other place in the world like Dragon Springs. It combines the natural beauty of New York State with ancient Chinese architecture, performing arts, academic learning, and spiritual meditation.
"The History of New York's Chinatown". Mediabridge Infosystems, Inc. Retrieved April 11, 2016. Manhattan's Chinatown, the largest Chinatown in the United States and the site of the largest concentration of Chinese in the Western Hemisphere, is located on the Lower East Side.
^Sarah Ngu (January 29, 2021).
"'Not what it used to be': in New York, Flushing's Asian residents brace against gentrification". The Guardian US. Retrieved August 13, 2020. The three developers have stressed in public hearings that they are not outsiders to Flushing, which is 69% Asian. 'They've been here, they live here, they work here, they've invested here,' said Ross Moskowitz, an attorney for the developers at a different public hearing in February... Tangram Tower, a luxury mixed-use development built by F&T. Last year, prices for two-bedroom apartments started at $1.15million... The influx of transnational capital and rise of luxury developments in Flushing has displaced longtime immigrant residents and small business owners, as well as disrupted its cultural and culinary landscape. These changes follow the familiar script of gentrification, but with a change of actors: it is Chinese American developers and wealthy Chinese immigrants who are gentrifying this working-class neighborhood, which is majority Chinese.